Best of the Week
Most Popular
1.Stock Market Continues Defying Gravity, Dow New All Time High - Nadeem_Walayat
2.America Superpower 2016 - Ian Bremmer
3.The US Dollar and the Precious Metals Complex - Rambus_Chartology
4.UK Immigration Crisis Could Prompt BREXIT, Propelling Britain Out of EU Despite German Factor - Nadeem_Walayat
5.The “Real Flash Crash” Will Scare You to Death - Shah Gilani
6.Gold Price Trend Forecast - Bob_Louka
7.UK Deflation Warning - Bank of England Economic Propaganda to Print and Inflate Debt - Nadeem_Walayat
8.Gold Lifeboat to Global Economies “Titanic Problem” Warn HSBC - GoldCore
9.Will Interest Rates Ever Rise? - BATR
10.Who’s Killing the Stock Market? - Shah Gilani
Last 5 days
Investing’s Great Struggle - 29th May 15
How Rich Countries Get Rich - Freedom, Global Poverty, and the Failure of Foreign Aid - 29th May 15
Goldman Sachs Warns “Too Much Debt” Threatens World Economy - 29th May 15
Skunk Works Engineers Supersonic Profits - 29th May 15
Gold, Silver and US Dollar Strength - 29th May 15
This New Currency Could Wipe Out the Euro - 28th May 15
US Housing Market - Something Smells Fishy - 28th May 15
US Economy – Semi b2b Amps Up its Trend - 28th May 15
U.S. Fed Exported QE Travesty: Meet The BLICS Nations - 28th May 15
World War D—Deflation - Secular Bear Markets Analysis - 28th May 15
George Soros Warns of “Third World War” - 28th May 15
Why You Shouldn't Try to Invest Like Warren Buffett - 28th May 15
Stock Markets Buy and Hold is Back! - 28th May 15
We're Now Frighteningly Vulnerable to a Bond Market Crash - 28th May 15
Austerity, Economics and Religion - 28th May 15
National Holidays London and the Magic of Legoland UK Review - 27th May 15
Imminent Stocks Bear Market Signaled by Dow Theory ... - 27th May 15
Gold Price Has Bottomed – More Evidence - 27th May 15
Three Reasons You Shouldn’t Try to Invest Like Warren Buffett - 27th May 15
Gold Is “100% Guarantee from Legal and Political Risks” States Russian Central Bank - 27th May 15
Don't Drown in the Sea of Global Debt - 27th May 15
Three Reasons Why Carl Icahn Is Wrong About Apple Stock - 27th May 15
Crude Oil Price Stochastic Signals - 26th May 15
Why the Stock Market Will Crash - 26th May 15
GDP, Inflation, Employment Economic Statistics: It’s All a Lie - 26th May 15
Introduction to Peak Food - 26th May 15
Should We Dump the Euro? - 26th May 15
A Geopolitical Net Assessment of Europe - 26th May 15
Stock Market Top in Place? - 26th May 15
Best Cash ISA SBI 2.3% - 2.8 Year Fix, UK Interest Rates 2016 - 26th May 15
China Sets Up Gold Bullion Fund For Central Banks - 25th May 15
Is The Silver Trade Getting Crowded? - 25th May 15
Money Murder Mystery: Who Killed the Stock Market? - 25th May 15
Why Do We Celebrate Rising U.S. House Prices? - 24th May 15
Mario Draghi’s Slippery Downward Slope - 24th May 15
Gold : Truth is Stranger than Fiction - 24th May 15
Facebook Stock Price Forecast - 24th May 15
Make a Killing on the Coming Energy "Debt Bubble" - 24th May 15

Free Instant Analysis

Free Instant Technical Analysis


Market Oracle FREE Newsletter

Biggest Debt Bomb in History

The Solar Energy Tipping Point, Polysilicon Prices in 2012

Commodities / Solar Energy Nov 27, 2012 - 03:37 AM GMT

By: Investment_U

Commodities

David Fessler writes: Solar energy detractors point to the fact that it can’t compete without “huge” government subsidies. And up until now, I couldn’t argue to the contrary.

But very soon, those detractors will likely be eating their words. I’ve said it many times in the past: Technology marches on, and the cost of manufacturing will come down.


Well the cost of manufacturing solar isn’t just coming down; it’s dropping through the floor. By the end of this year, solar will be so cheap it will compete with just about any other form of generation. It already does in some places, and at commercial scale levels. The best part? It will do it without subsidies.

You see, solar panel prices are about to cross a tipping point. It’s all due to the drop in price of a solar module’s most crucial ingredient: polysilicon.

The Polysilicon House of Cards

Polysilicon prices have collapsed 90% in the last five years. That translates directly into lower module costs, lower panel prices and ultimately into a lower installed cost per watt.

How did this happen? Way back in 2006, there was a run on polysilicon. It turns out it’s the same material used to make integrated circuits. But all of a sudden, the solar industry was booming, and competing for what was then a limited supply.

Its use for solar was rising rapidly, and 2006 was the first year that 50% of all polysilicon went into the manufacture of modules for solar panels. And panel manufacturers were clamoring for even more.

Polysilicon makers were laughing all the way to the bank, and then some. They essentially were an oligopoly, and were earning upwards of 40% margins on their product, according to a recent research report published by GTM Research.

Prices just kept rising along with demand, and by 2008 the shortage was so severe, polysilicon was selling for over $400 per kilogram on the spot market. Margins had risen to 70%.

Naturally, this lured new players into the market, and led existing makers to expand manufacturing capacity. But they overestimated how much was really going to be needed.

By 2011, much of this additional capacity began to come online, and polysilicon prices started falling. By March of 2011, the spot price had dropped to $80 per kilogram, and by this past December, it was all the way down to $30 per kilo.

This incredibly low spot price was all the leverage customers with long-term contracts needed to renegotiate lower prices.

GTM Research predicts that in 2012, these declining silicon prices will lead to even lower module prices. At the beginning of 2011, module prices were $1.80 per watt. By the end of 2011, they were halved to $0.90 per watt.

Closing in on Grid Parity

This year, GTM expects module prices to breach the $0.70-per-watt barrier and continue to head south. Of course, with other manufacturing costs and installation being relatively fixed, lower raw material means lower panel prices. And $0.70 per watt is below the magic $1.00-per-watt level that’s widely viewed as “grid parity” for solar.

That’s the point where it makes just as much sense to use solar as any other form of generation.

The system I installed at my farm is 10.08 kilowatts (KW). Over its 25-year lifetime, it’s expected to produce an average of 12,000 to 18,000 kilowatt-hours (kWh) per year.

I’m leasing my system for five years, and will then purchase it. My total all-in cost is about $27,000. (Since I’m leasing the system, I don’t receive any government subsidies or tax breaks.)

Let’s assume that the system produces the minimum amount per year, 12,000 kWh.

Multiplying by 25 and then dividing by the cost of the system, we come up with $0.08 per kWh. My current electricity from the grid operator costs $0.14 per kWh.

That’s almost a 50% savings. If I produce even more, my savings will be even higher.

And this system has panels that were manufactured in 2011. Panels made this year will be even cheaper, and so will the all-in cost.

Misinformation and Black Eyes

So what’s keeping solar from being widely adopted? Lack of information, for one…

The industry got quite a black eye over the Solyndra deal.

GTM Research Senior Analyst, Brett Prior, believes the industry will continue to grow at 10% to 20% per year for the foreseeable future. He had this to say about the polysilicon market today:

“After a half-decade of silicon demand outstripping supply, the aggressive expansion plans finally overshot.

“This supply/demand imbalance will push producers to lower contract prices closer to the level of manufacturing costs at $20 per kilogram, and will force higher-cost manufacturers to exit the industry.

“The end result is that the current roster of over 170 polysilicon manufacturers and startups will likely be winnowed down to a dozen survivors by the end of decade.”

I believe that as prices continue to drop, solar will continue to gain in popularity.

Big panel manufacturers like U.S.-based SunPower Corporation (Nasdaq: SPWR) will be around when the dust settles. They currently make the most efficient (19%) commercially available panels in the world. The stock is way off its highs of a year ago, but is up a healthy 22% since the beginning of the year.

So is it solar boom time? I don’t have a crystal ball, but with module prices continuing to drop, it becomes more attractive every day. That’s good news for panel manufacturers, as they’ll continue to improve as volumes ramp up. Investors certainly won’t find them any cheaper than they are right now.

Source: http://www.investmentu.com/2012/January/polysilicon-green-energy.html

by David Fessler, Advisory Panelist, Investment U

http://www.investmentu.com

Copyright © 1999 - 2012 by The Oxford Club, L.L.C All Rights Reserved. Protected by copyright laws of the United States and international treaties. Any reproduction, copying, or redistribution (electronic or otherwise, including on the world wide web), of content from this website, in whole or in part, is strictly prohibited without the express written permission of Investment U, Attn: Member Services , 105 West Monument Street, Baltimore, MD 21201 Email: CustomerService@InvestmentU.com

Disclaimer: Investment U Disclaimer: Nothing published by Investment U should be considered personalized investment advice. Although our employees may answer your general customer service questions, they are not licensed under securities laws to address your particular investment situation. No communication by our employees to you should be deemed as personalized investment advice. We expressly forbid our writers from having a financial interest in any security recommended to our readers. All of our employees and agents must wait 24 hours after on-line publication or 72 hours after the mailing of printed-only publication prior to following an initial recommendation. Any investments recommended by Investment U should be made only after consulting with your investment advisor and only after reviewing the prospectus or financial statements of the company.

Investment U Archive

© 2005-2015 http://www.MarketOracle.co.uk - The Market Oracle is a FREE Daily Financial Markets Analysis & Forecasting online publication.


Post Comment

Only logged in users are allowed to post comments. Register/ Log in

Biggest Debt Bomb in History